PHCA Angaza Vision Trip
Vision Trip Details
TRIP NEWS - MAY 19
Jambo! We have wrapped up our time in Kenya today with our second day on Safari. We got to see so many of God’s beautiful creation. It was amazing to see Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Lions, Cheetahs, Water Buffalo and more up close. One Lion walked right up to Land Cruiser! God’s creation indeed is vast and beautiful, but the most beautiful of His creation we witnessed on this trip were our MOHI hosts and our Kenyan brothers and sisters at Angaza. Such beautiful souls and welcoming hearts. They grafted us in immediately and we are more than “pen pals” now, we are rafiki - friends. More than that, our view of the family of God has expanded and while we know God’s Kingdom includes every tongue and nation, now we know face to face. Our brothers and sisters in Kenya are as excited for our friendship as we are.
Tomorrow we leave at 5am to get on our flight at 9am. We travel to London, have a lengthy layover and then travel to Minneapolis. We will be home by Sunday noon.
We are bringing home stories and adventures beyond our expectations. God has been at work and we are honored to have represented Pine Haven Christian Assembly on this vision trip. Thank you for your trust in us, for sending us and for your faithful prayers and support. We are coming home with a few souvenirs, several bug bites, skin kissed by the sun, and hearts touched by the beauty of our Kenyan family. We will be leaving a piece of our hearts in Kenya but we are glad to be returning to our brothers and sisters in America. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. Bwana Asifiwe - Praise the Lord.
Made it to the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
Safari sunrise taken from the
treetops of our resort.
Maasai Mara Sunrise
Stopped at the Mara River to go for a walk. We saw a lot of hippos, a few crocodiles, and a couple of giraffes as well!
TRIP NEWS - MAY 18
We had an incredible day of seeing new parts of Kenya, toured the Great Rift Valley, and were able to explore on a safari!
Our group had a significant time of debriefing around a campfire in the evening - a taste of Pine Haven! We were all encouraged at what the Lord has done through this trip and this team, and we are eager to see how He leads going forward as we deepen our friendship with Angaza. Thank you for your prayers!
Going On Safari!
Overlooking the Great Rift Valley
TRIP NEWS - MAY 17
Our last day at Angaza was filled with more relationship building, using the newly cleared Gaga Ball pit, playing games, worshiping with the campers, and seeing their mentors lead the campers in the challenge course elements. After a full day at camp, we flew back to Nairobi for the night.
A good conversation
Tay addresses the Angaza campers
TRIP NEWS - MAY 16
Today’s visit to camp was one we were all looking forward to since we first learned about Angaza Discovery Camp—seeing it in action! It was a full day of programming and it was a privilege to witness and participate in what they were doing. The camper’s day begins at 6:00am! I am not sure our campers at Pine Haven would appreciate such an early wake-up…nor would our faculty/deans!
The rest of their schedule looks like this:
6:00am-6:55am Shower and tent cleaning
7:00am-7:30am All camp devotion
7:30am-8:00am Quiet time and personal devotions
9:30am-10:30am Large group games/experiences
10:30am-11:00am Snack time (eat uji, which is a porridge)
11:00am-11:30am Praise and celebration
11:30am-12:30pm Small group time
1:30pm-2:30pm Rest hour
2:30pm-5:00pm Camp activities (challenge course, ocean swimming, and creativity time)
5:00pm-5:30pm Freshen up
5:30pm-6:30pm Small group time
7:30pm-8:30pm Chapel experience
8:30pm-9:00pm Get ready for bed
9:00pm-9:15pm Tent devotions
9:30pm Lights out!
Praying for Lunch. They eat like kings at camp!
As you can see, there are many similar elements to programming at Pine Haven and some that are different. We arrived in time to join the campers and mentors at the chapel where they were playing games and dancing! They took some time for each mentor to share their name (with an adjective) and why they follow Jesus. They included our team as well! These were the adjectives everyone picked for themselves, which, many of them made the kids laugh:
Lovely, Learning, Lethargic Larry
Terrifically Tenacious Tay
We were also able to join in on their time of praise and celebration. There was so much energy and joy throughout! I think we may all be getting better at dancing…maybe.
Morning game time was enjoyed by all!
One of the non-program elements of our day was helping the maintenance staff clear the Gaga ball pit. There were a lot of brush and rocks that needed to be cleared. The team did a great job and will hopefully get a chance to teach the kids how to play tomorrow!
Gaga Ball pit all cleaned up and ready to use
We wrapped up our day by swimming in the ocean with some of the mentors and campers. We played keep away with a ball, had some foot races on the beach, and Jordan and Jacob taught some kids a few American dances, like the griddy!
Beach time with the kids!
Overall, it was a sweet time of fellowship with our new friends. Most of the campers were experiencing camp for the first time and to see the smiles on their faces was heart-warming! For so many of us, camp is a special place to encounter Jesus and be encouraged in our faith. We are thankful the kids at Angaza have that same opportunity! Pray for the students to know Jesus and follow him as Lord and Savior!
- Blake Saathoff
Managers Couples - (L to R) Larry, Henry, Nanis, and Tay
TRIP NEWS - MAY 15
Today we made it to Angaza! We were given a tour of the camp by the Camp Manager Henry and his wife, Nanis, and Quinton - their program director. It was a nice time of sharing and talking about our common ministries. We have a new appreciation for the challenges they face.
Learning how to make a bed is one of the first things the campers do. Most do not have their own bed in their homes and what beds they have either double as their couch or are put down and taken back up every morning, so having a bed that stays made all day is new. The first night is light on programming. The campers got on a train at 5 am this morning for an eight-hour ride and transferred to a bus for another hour and a half. The campers were asked what they saw for the first time on their trip. Elephants, Monkeys, and Zebras were some of the animals they saw. They explained to us that this is all so new, the campers actually have some culture shock from the trip. So when they arrive, they make the evening calm and short so they can get a good night's rest. Then tomorrow, they go for it!
Some things are very similar. They have a Challenge Course, a Chapel with a footprint almost identical to ours, and bunk beds. Some things are different - they have a Wall in their challenge course - an element we used to have and one which Jake, Josiah, and Jordan are sure we should bring back. They have bunk beds that stack three high!
The Wall - after conquering it
Three High Bunk Beds
Their cabins are made of tents with Coconut leaf thatched roofs over top keeping the heat off the tent. I’m pretty sure our campers would love for us to build thatched roofs over our cabins to keep them cool, I just don’t know where we’d get them in Minnesota. And they have a horse!! We have Loons.
Traditional Kenyan Garb
The important things are true for both of our camps. The Gospel is central to all teaching and campers are challenged to a deeper relationship with Christ. Today Henry was describing how their program elements, cabin time, and meal time all offer opportunity for conversation. “We are in continuous conversation,” he said. Yes and yes again!! That’s the beauty of camp, whether it’s in Kenya or Minnesota.
TRIP NEWS - MAY 14
Sunday was an opportunity to meet with the body of Christ. It was a strong reminder that we are one body and are encouraged to live in unity with one another. Today we had an opportunity to attend a church dedication in Kibarani followed by a church service in the newly dedicated building. When we arrived at the church we were welcomed by members of the congregation through song and dance. We then joined with a team from Traders Point Christian Church to pray for the ministry happening in Kibarani and for our brothers and sisters in Christ there. As we worshipped with the church in Kibarani, we were blessed by the many gifts and talents from within their congregation.
The congregation in Kibarani went beyond our expectations to welcome us. They made a lasting impact on our hearts as we were invited to make a lasting impact on their property through the planting of trees. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was a welcomed highlight for our day. In time, these trees will provide some much-needed shade to the property. However, it was an “aha” moment and an additional point of connection when we learned that Angaza campers, during one of their weeks of camp last year, also planted trees at the church. Who would have thought that only one year later we would be able to visit Kenya and plant trees here!! Of course, we had to share with our Kenyan family how we encourage the trees at Pine Haven with the phrase, "Grow, Baby Tree, Grow"!
Through all of the events of the day we were humbled, honored, and grateful for the generosity and kindness of our Kenyan Hosts. A great example of this was seen in a humble servant named Madam Cindy. We first met Madam Cindy when we first arrived at the church. She was one of the welcoming crew who sang to us as we drove onto the property. Seeing our unfamiliarity with the words, she went out of her way to make sure we knew the words so we too could continue to sing along. Tay was quickly drawn to her and the two sang with joyful hearts. During tree planting, it was Madam Cindy who showed the love of Christ to our group by carrying water to where the trees were being planted and also washing our hands and arms for us. It reminded me of Jesus showing love to the disciples through the washing of feet. We were all very capable to wash our own hands, but she would have no part. She jumped in and served. It did not matter our ability, she wanted to make sure we were taken care of and loved.
As the disciples argued about who was the greatest it was Jesus who picked up the towel and knelt down. He knew their faults and failures. Yet He showed love through humility and service. It was not about the position, but about loving others. In the same way, Jesus knows our inabilities and faults. He knew that we could not be in the presence of God with our sins, yet He wanted us to have that relationship. Therefore, he humbled himself and showed us love through the cross. Thank you Madam Cindy for being humble and reminding me of the love of Jesus.
TRIP NEWS - MAY 13
Today was variety-packed as we were able to spend the morning with the Angaza Mentors at Kosovo. They led us in worship and brought a powerful message from God's word. Both teams taught each other new games, and we were able to share with them some team-building group activities that they will be able to use already this coming week!
A time of Q & A's allowed back and forth conversation as we talked through challenges that we face during the camp sessions, as well as possible solutions & encouragement.
We enjoyed a hearty lunch at the center, where we enjoyed continued conversation & fellowship with the Mentors.
Late in the afternoon, we rode to the airport and flew out towards Angaza, where we finished up with an hour drive to our accommodations for the next few days.
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement! The Lord is good and His love endures forever!
Josiah found a HUGE spider in his shoe in which he had already had his foot! When it dropped out on the floor of the bus, all three boys jumped in their seats and started screaming like girls!
To say we had fun at the mentor training would be an understatement! We had a blast!
TRIP NEWS - MAY 12
Today was exciting as we met the Angaza Mentors (think faculty). These mentors are aged 18-24 and they have committed to a year of serving Angaza as their counselors/teachers/cabin leaders. They are an energetic bunch who obviously love the Lord and are on fire for working with the campers. As part of their service, when they have weeks off, they follow up with their campers and visit them in their homes to see how they are doing and encourage them to continue to grow. Our time with them today included everything from worship (which was incredible - wish we could sing like that); camp games - we're coming home with a few new ones and they have a few new ones they learned from us; spiritual formation training where we shared with them about the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina and gave them each the book, Enjoy the Silence by Duffy and Maggie Robbins; more ice-breaker and get-to-know-you games; and sharing together in conversation. It was rich and beautiful. We get to have more time with them tomorrow.
"The hope that these people have is unbelievable to me. I look at the conditions they are living in and it is below the quality of living that Americans would consider to be humane and sanitary; however, the people I have been able to visit with have still been kind, compassionate, and hopeful. Many people would expect them to be disgruntled or upset or even mad at God for being in the position they’re in, but that is the farthest thing from how they feel. Though I have only been able to see the outside of what these people are going through, they seem hopeful and they continue to trust in God and his plan. I had a leader tell me that often what we see is the smoke and we don’t see or aren’t able to get to the center of the problem or "fire." But it was hopeful for me to hear when he said that he is able to go and spend time with these families and help put out the fires that are at the center of their troubles and hurts." - Jordan Odor
"The joy in the kids' eyes is one of my favorite parts of this trip. They are eager to welcome us and love to interact with our team." - Renee Domogalla
"We spent some time with the Angaza mentors/faculty and they are so wholehearted in everything they do. I am looking to try and be more intentional in hyping up greetings and bring energy welcoming people to camp and everything in general." - Jake Taplin
"Meeting with the Angaza mentors was great. Being able to share in our experiences and love for the ministry was so much fun." - Josiah Odor
"I'm so impressed with the Angaza mentors. They have an energy and an excitement that is contagious. Our worship time led by the Angaza mentors was loud, energetic, and life-giving. What a great way to start the day!" - Tay Odor
"I had the opportunity to talk with the program director of the Angaza Discovery Camp at our mentor training session today. We discussed how he became connected with the Angaza camp, the challenges of preparing for camp, as well as the differences and similarities between Angaza and Pine Haven. As great as it was to talk about the fun activities and planning that goes into a week of camp, we also discussed how important it is to keep the heart of the ministries front and center. Both Angaza and Pine Haven want to see campers come to know Jesus. That is why we do what we do. Without Christ at the center of our camps, we will not be effective in reaching campers. It is what unites us! Two countries, two camps, one Lord!" - Blake Saathoff
I happened to sit next to a young gal named Sharon and I asked her what she liked about her role as a mentor. Her response was that her Angaza friends are her second family and she can't wait to get back to camp to spend time with them and the campers. For her, the campers remind her that the faith of a child is powerful and that gives her hope. Her mentor family also encourages her to and challenges her to grow in the Lord. For Sharon, serving as a mentor is one of the greatest opportunities she has been a part of, and therefore is excited to come back and serve more than once.
TRIP NEWS - MAY 11
Today was filled with so many sights, sounds, smells, students and samosas! We visited the headquarters of Missions of Hope International where Rafael shared with us MOHI's history. We are amazed at the good work God has done and is continuing to do through the work here. What began in 2000 with 50 kindergartners in a two room home that is smaller than the size of our Naomi cabin, has grown to over 30 schools with more than 28,000 children. Their 10 year vision is to grow to 100 schools, 100,000 students and plant 100 churches. Rafael said, "We won't stop until God's transformation increases beyond measure."
After our orientation and time with MOHI leadership, we visited the homes of a few MOHI students. Words cannot begin to describe our visit. We were welcomed with such sweet hospitality in the midst of such extreme poverty. We walked through several narrow corridors of shanties with people selling wares, visiting with neighbors, children rolling tires down the road and goats everywhere. We met Dorcas who gave us a tour of her outdoor kitchen making potatoes, rice and beans, and cabbage soup. We visited the home of a mother who had three girls and lived in a shanty made of corrugated steel and walls lined with plastic feed bags that is no bigger than Room 2 of our Dining Hall. She was gracious to have us in her home.
Renee was able to meet the child her family sponsors. Her child lives with his mother and five other children ranging from 22 down to 2. She works as a cleaner. She was a delight with which to visit. Blake and Jake were also able to visit with the child New Life Christian Church Youth Group sponsors. We were able to visit these students at their MOHI schools and were invited into classrooms where students shared memory verses and songs with us. After seeing the overwhelming need in the Mathare Valley, it was encouraging to come into the MOHI school and see so many children from that area happy, cared for, learning and hopeful.
Don't know what a samosa is? Look it up and when you come to Kenya, be sure to have one!
Renee was a kid magnet! Everywhere she went the children would run up to her!
We were invited into classes at the MOHI schools to introduce ourselves and meet the students. Here Josiah is talking with the class.
Larry and Ben visiting a MOHI child's home. The social workers do a fantastic job with the families and are loved and trusted.
On the way out of the class I gave one child a high five - before I knew it, the whole class was running at me with their high fives outstretched!
TRIP NEWS - MAY 10
We have arrived in Kenya!! Another day of sweet provision. Mary and Wallace Kamau, Directors of Mission of Hope International - the mission we are working with - were on our flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi. They greeted us and waited for us to get off the plane. When we got to immigration, Airport police ushered us to shorter lines because Wallace had talked with them. We went through with no trouble. He and the police stayed with us through customs as well. Went through with no trouble. Anne met us outside the airport and took us to the Guest House of the mission where they served us a lovely Butter Squash soup and bread. And now we rest, for tomorrow we will visit the MOHI mission head quarters, visit a couple of the MOHI schools, meet children we sponsor and visit their homes. We are overwhelmed by the way God is moving on our behalf and we are humbled by your continued prayer support. Thank you.
TRIP NEWS - MAY 9
We have already had more adventure in one day than we anticipated! It looked this morning as though Larry wouldn't be able to join us, but Good moved mountains and our whole team is on our way to Kenya!! In Larry's words,
"On the verge of tears. Jesus just said to me, "This isn't about anything you or Tay or anyone else can do. This is about Me. I am the King of nations. I wanted to show you that when you reach the end of yourself and all your effort, you can trust Me. You needed to know that if you went to Africa it was because I (Jesus) made it happen, not you."
Your prayers have much effect!! Thank you!
TRIP NEWS - APRIL 26
Passports, Visas, Immunizations and Support are now in place. Our team has met viz zoom a few times, getting to know each other better and preparing for our vision trip. We have met with Pine Haven Alum Ben Cachiaras and Tom Moen who inspired our friendship with Angaza. They have shared their insights and wisdom for our prep and our visit. Jake, Jordan and Josiah are trying to finish their school years, so please pray they can finish strong and get all their assignments done. Josiah has the added pressure of moving home from TN before leaving as well. So prayers for logistics and safe travels is muh appreciated. Ben, Blake, Larry, Renee and I are getting our work and home arenas ready for our absence as we prepare as well. Your continued prayers for health while we get ready to leave. We continue to read the book, "From Foreign to Familiar," as a team and are remain humbled to be your representatives. Thank you for your support and prayers.
TRIP NEWS - MAR 16
Passports, Visas, Immunizations and Support are all things we are working on for our trip. Today we received our Tentative Itinerary. It's getting real! Please pray for continued health, the path for logistics to be smooth and for God to prepare our hearts for what He is teaching and leading us in. We are reading the book, "From Foreign to Familiar," as a team and are humbled to be your representatives. Thank you for your support and prayers.
TRIP NEWS - FEB 10
We have secured our tickets and fly out May 9th and return May 20th.
Our team members are Ben Piotrowicz (Board Chair & Dean), Blake Saathoff (Program Chair & Dean), Renee Domogalla (Former Dean, Faculty), Jake Taplin (Camper), Josiah Odor (Staff), Jordan Odor (Staff), Larry Odor (Videographer), and Tay Odor (Camp Manager). We are excited to represent Pine Haven and meet our friends at Angaza and MOHI.